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Ampeg Portaflex 500 head vs Fender Rumble 800 head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by RumbleMan3, Oct 16, 2019.


  1. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    This is comparing these two heads.

    Reason being is they are both in the same price bracket. I like the controls better on the ampeg, and it’s actually cheaper, but how do they vary in power, sound quality, the amps ‘colour’, build quality and versatility?

    I love rumbles and I love the mid punch and the balanced highs, but the bass is too tight. There’s no deep clear bass it’s more like low mids which gives it a boomy muddy sound. I don’t know if it’s just the 1x12 speaker, or if it’s also the amp heads aswell.

    My main selling points of the portaflex is the built in compressor, the seperate mid level and mid frequency controls, and mainly, the price. Can it compare to higher priced amps like markbass or Aguilar?

    I like a deep, clear sound, with a punchy midrange, and I like highs but not super high.

    Thanks
     
  2. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    I’m also still deciding on a cab. Depending on the brand and model, it will either be a 115 or 210, maybe a 112.

    My favourite sound is aguilar dB or even sl, but they cost a lot. Perhaps a rumble if the 115s go deep and clear like some of the aguilar stuff.

    I’m actually not sure whether I like the svt or pro neo cabs. They’ve got the deep sound, but I prefer how the aguilar are more balanced.
     
  3. chupacerveza

    chupacerveza Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    Austin, TX
    My PF-500 died so I got the Rumble 800. It (the 800) does indeed have a compressor built in and the Rumble club has some in depth discussions of its functionality. But yeah the PF-500 is a great amp until it’s power supply craps out. Regarding cabs, I find many suitable options and the R800 can drive many cab combinations—more variations than the PF-500 to be sure.
     
    RumbleMan3 likes this.
  4. BlackCatBassman

    BlackCatBassman

    Aug 11, 2016
    Some odd stuff going on with the PF and Rumble lines. PF prices have all dropped significantly, Rumble 200 and Rumble 500 no longer available. FWIW on Sweetwater, the PF-800 and Rumble 800 are now both the same price. I believe the PF-800 had fewer issues than the PF-500 and PF-350.

    My guess would be that Yamaha is phasing out the PF line, getting ready to roll out something new. No idea as to what Fender is doing with the Rumble line, everyone seemed to love them and I thought they were selling like hotcakes.

    ETA: I've played the PF-500 in stores and bought/returned a Rumble 500 through Sweetwater. Enjoyed both amps, but neither one was right for me. The Rumble 500 was easy to dial in a great tone, but it felt low on power and the construction (mainly the knobs) left something to be desired. The PF-500 sounded incredible in every scenario I played it (different basses, different cabs, big stores, small stores etc.), it was impossible to get a bad sound out of it. But the reliability issues scared me off. I have no interest in going back and forth with customer service over something that is just a hobby for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
    RumbleMan3 and chupacerveza like this.
  5. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra. Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I kinda like my little PF-500. It's my backup/secondary amp, so I don't play it often. It sounds warm, if not retro. The tube breakup is ok if you take the trouble to dial some in. One thing I definitely do not understand, however, is the Ultra Low button. Like, if you wanted a 2db boost at 40 Hz, why not just twist the Bass knob a little to the clockwise? Yes, it also cuts at 500 Hz but... so does the Mid knob if you have the Frequency set to position 2. These "Ultra" buttons just seem silly and just about all Ampegs have them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
    The Nameless, RumbleMan3 and BigYo like this.
  6. High Camp

    High Camp

    Oct 3, 2013
    Netherlands
    Just checked with Thomas: the prices are way down; great opportunity to buy an Ampeg PF800 and PF115HE brand spanking new! :)
     
  7. High Camp

    High Camp

    Oct 3, 2013
    Netherlands
    Thomas = Thomann
     
    chupacerveza likes this.
  8. promdates

    promdates

    Jun 2, 2019
    Slidell, LA
    I ended up going with the PF-800 and the PF210HE cab back in June-ish? Managed to pick them both up used for roughly half the cost of new. Both sounded good, and haven't had any issues at all with either. I know there's a guy on CL/FB near me selling a PF-500 and 2x PF115 for 500 or 600. I don't see it up anymore, maybe he sold them.
     
  9. edencab

    edencab

    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    the PF210HE cab is high on my GAS list..looks so cool and retro..sounds good the few times I've played in a store at low-ish volumes...how loud can it get to compete with a band?
     
    chupacerveza and RumbleMan3 like this.
  10. promdates

    promdates

    Jun 2, 2019
    Slidell, LA
    The last couple of times I've used it, it can get rather loud compared to the band. When I used it at rehearsal before we went to the new mixer, I would generally put it around 9o'clock (around a 2-3 maybe?). It's a shame that I haven't really used it in the last 6 weeks or so. The last time I could have used it, the opener let me use their rig.
     
    RumbleMan3, chupacerveza and edencab like this.
  11. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    I believe the ultra buttons are more like presets... instead of fiddling with knobs, u just push 1 button.

    The rumble amps also use this. Bright, contour and vintage.

    And @chupacerveza regarding the compressor in the rumble, I believe you meant the vintage switch. Although it does add some slight compression, I wouldn’t call it a compressor. It’s just set to one thing, and it’s mixed in with added bass and rolled off highs. You can’t have use the compressor on its own.

    I like the seperate compressor on the portaflex that actually allows you to have seperate control over the level of compression.
     
    chupacerveza likes this.
  12. RumbleMan3

    RumbleMan3

    Apr 14, 2018
    Australia
    And I wonder why the PF heads are so cheap? They seem to have everything the rumbles have, but more.

    In terms of build quality and reliability, how do they match up? I personally never have had any issues with my rumble combo, but I also know they are mass produced, and the cheap price must come at a cost somewhere, whether it’s qc or something else.

    I don’t want to buy a pf500 and have it die on my within a month, but I did hear that this was more for the earlier models and they kind of fixed this issue? I always thought ampeg were really solid gear.
     
    chupacerveza likes this.
  13. BlackCatBassman

    BlackCatBassman

    Aug 11, 2016
    Ampeg gear used to have a reputation for being really solid, but ownership has changed hands numerous times over the years and a lot of production ended up in countries where QC in manufacturing...leaves something to be desired. Supposedly the worst of the failing amp issues were confined to the PF500 and only the early versions - kinda like software, they updated them every so often and I think the later revisions (denoted by a letter: Revision A, B, C etc.) are much more reliable. There are several folks here more knowledgeable that could tell you the good/bad revisions to look out for. As I've said before, my speculation is that the prices are low because Ampeg/Yamaha is getting rid of stock in preparation for rolling out "the new hotness" soon.

    Going by what you see on TalkBass and the rest of the internet, the Rumbles didn't have many problems. The one I had felt solidly built aside from the knobs which seemed a little cheap. Fender's stuff is also made in countries with suspect quality control, however.

    If reliability and trouble-free operation is your top priority: Rumble
    If you are in love with the Ampeg sound and can get a great deal: PF500

    I know you're in Australia, so this bit of observation may not apply to you...but I really believe it's hard to buy a bad car in America. I mean sure, some are better than others but I think anything on the road could easily last to 100,000 miles on the odometer and beyond (with proper care and maintenance). I feel the same way about amps. I don't think there's anything on the market that is just absolute junk (even the Bugera/Behringer stuff). Obviously there will always be the odd Lemon and someone who knew someone said their amp caught fire, burned their house down and killed their wife's dog but again...that seems to be quite rare. You can't go wrong with either the Rumble or the PF500, just pick one and get back to the real fun of this hobby - playing music.
     
    chupacerveza and RumbleMan3 like this.
  14. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra. Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I'd like to make something explicit that I think most people already understand: it isn't the country's fault if Fender's amps are poor quality. It isn't a reflection on Indonesia or China or wherever. It's a reflection on Fender and its executives. Period. It is they who decide to cheap out on dicey materials, parts, and processes, not working-class schlubs in Vietnam. While it may be true that when a company like Ampeg or Fender or whomever decides to cheap out on a product line they also simultaneously decide to cheap out on labor and supply chain costs by having the work done in one of these countries, it isn't the countries themselves who are deficient. It is the decision-makers in the company. The end.
     
    Stumbo, segina, 12BitSlab and 4 others like this.
  15. The Chuck

    The Chuck

    Dec 11, 2013
    Wilmington, NC
    The PF800 sounded a little dark to me. I didn't notice it at first but after a bought a Rumble 200 combo it became apparent comparing the two side by side. No matter what I did I couldn't get rid of the "darker" ampeg tone. I liked the Rumble's tone so much that I sold the PF800 and got a Rumble 500 head and a Rumble 115 cab. I've been very happy with them. I don't miss the PF800.

    That's my story.
     
    G-Dog and chupacerveza like this.
  16. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra. Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    You know, I find my PF-500 to be a little "dark" as well. Then again, I haven't played it much and I've been running the EQ flat so far. I think I'll try actually bumping the mids next time I use it.
     
    chupacerveza likes this.
  17. GoLeafsGo

    GoLeafsGo Not Quite Right!

    Oct 25, 2013
    Ajax Ontario
    Really think the reliability issue around the PF500 is being overblown. There were a great many of the early versions that did fail, but that was fixed years ago. I bought mine about 4 years ago, after the issues seemed to be resolved. I paired it with the 115, and loved the sound. A couple of years later, I added the 210 because, well, you know...GAS. Didn't really need it, but wanted it. Running the PF500 through the 2 sounds AWESOME, and if you add an SCR-DI in front it is even better. My PF500 has been used heavily for 4 years, at sometimes excessive volumes (sometimes you just get carried away...) with not a single issue. The compressor is really a great feature, and the tone is, I think, as close as you can get to that vintage tube sound. I compared a whole bunch of cabs and heads before I bought, I loved the reduced weight of the Rumbles, but the tone just was not what I was looking for. I came very close to going with a Traynor, but in the end picked the Ampeg, and am very happy with the choice I made.
     
    Skillet, RumbleMan3 and chupacerveza like this.
  18. promdates

    promdates

    Jun 2, 2019
    Slidell, LA
    I loved the sound from the PF800, but the thing that really sold me on the 800/210 combo was the fliptop. Just being able to have the amp in the cab, carrying one (albeit heavier item) instead of multiple made it easier for us. Unfortunately, I've just been going into board for shows recently, so it's been regulated to "make my garage loud".
     
    GoLeafsGo and chupacerveza like this.
  19. The Chuck

    The Chuck

    Dec 11, 2013
    Wilmington, NC
    I hope it works out for you.
     
  20. BlackCatBassman

    BlackCatBassman

    Aug 11, 2016
    Can you guys better describe what you mean by "dark" regarding the PF500/PF800? I've heard a similar description used for Ampeg cabs, as well.

    Maybe post examples of "dark" vs. uh...not dark? light? bright? You know what I mean :laugh:
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 21, 2021

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